Portal Review (XBox 360)
Way back in the day, when Portal was first released, you know the dark ages of 2007, purchasing a game that I already owned didn’t seem worth it. Portal was bundled in the Orange Box, a Valve game extravaganza including such games as Half-life 2 (owned it), two expansion packs, and Team Fortress 2.
But the Portal section of the box made such huge waves, it peaked my curiosity so I ran a ‘portal game’ search. The result was a poor, browser based imitation that frustrated me within the first ten minutes. This just reinforced my resolve not to purchase The Orange Box and I carried on, blissfully ignorant.
Enter Portal 2 with its cooperative multiplayer. That’s a tag line that is sure to get me to sit up and pay attention. So I begged my buddy to play it with me and after hours of badgering he caved, but set this one requirement – I had to play the original Portal first.
Best blackmail ever!
The game utilities the Half Life engine, which means the graphics are all super clean. This also means that the whole game is played in the first person perspective.
Unlike most FPS (first person shooters), Portal is non combative. The only gun that is provided is the portal gun, which can open two separate portals (orange and blue for handy identification) that instantly connect to each other. Walk in one portal; exit from the other.
Being non combative doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt or die, it just means you aren’t doing much in the way of killing. Though using the portal gun to drop various items from great heights was certainly a highlight for me.
Traversing the levels by utilizing the awesome power of the portal gun is the goal of the game. (Or for the endless slide.)
Though this mechanic is quite clever and the puzzles are certainly entertaining and challenging to complete, the real appeal of the game is GLaDOS, the computer that narrates the entire game.
The main character has signed on with Aperature (random evil corporation) to test run the portal gun. The only way out is to complete the level. As you progress it becomes clearer that the computer finds death to be an acceptable way to complete levels. Staying alive becomes the main mission, while the computer plays evil DM (dungeon master).
Portal is funny and clever, incredibly well written, and so much is conveyed with the environments and the tiny tidbits that the computer shares. It’s just enough to insinuate a complex story without actually telling any of it. Brilliant.
And then there is the end. Play all the way to the end. It is well worth it.
I certainly appreciate that playing the game was not a struggle against the controls and they avoided making it too hard. But I do wish they had gotten a bit more creative with the mechanics. Again not made it harder, just expanded ideas a bit more. Some of the middle parts dragged a bit.
But really this is an excellent game that everyone should play. =)
Is the cake really a lie?